Previous St. Stithians Headmistress Addresses GWF Students

When Anne van Zyl first arrived at Good Work Foundation’s Hazyview Digital Learning Centre, there were a few people who were intimidated. At over 70 years old, Anne stands as tall and strong as a woman half her age. Her way of speaking is unequivocally “resolute” and when you talk, she immediately tips her head down and glances at you over her spectacles, as if the barrier of the lens may block a detail that will impede her “first-meeting” analysis.

Also, there is that small biting detail of Anne being a former “headmistress”. Not just any headmistress either. As well as once steering the St. Stithians Collegiate, Anne has just retired as the Director at Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy for Girls, based in Johannesburg. No small feat, and a position for which she received wide-spread recognition.

A long-time friend of Kate and Mo Groch, upon retiring Anne contacted the Groch’s and said: “Actually, there’s no way I’m retiring. I’m petrified of retiring. Can I be of service to Good Work Foundation?” That was a no-brainer.

Today, Anne is the moderator of Good Work Foundation’s adult English literacy programme. With the objective of getting our adult students ready to communicate in a business world that speaks English, Anne has been working closely with Crispen Bvumbghe (full-time GWF teacher) since January this year.


Anne van Zyl presenting a course on presentation.

On Friday 3rd October, at our first 2014 end-of-year graduation, we asked Anne if she would do us the honour of being our keynote speaker.

Here’s what the headmistress said to the student(s):

 “Hazyview Digital Learning Centre (HDLC) came about because a group of visionary thinkers came together to try and address the educational needs of this community.

The symbol of the Learning Centre is the Digital Tree of Knowledge, but this afternoon I am going to talk to you about the four pillars of the HDLC that will strengthen you in the years ahead.

The four pillars are:

H: stands for HOPE

D: stands for DRIVEN

L: stands for LEADERSHIP

C: stands for COMMITMENT


Anne van Zyl handing our students their graduation certificates.


H is for HOPE.  Hope is a profound quality of the soul which builds resilience, helps you to never give up, lifts you up when you are down. Hope is neither pessimism nor optimism but rather a belief that things will come right whatever the challenges.

Nelson Mandela said: “Hope is a powerful weapon and one that no one on Earth can deprive you of.”

D is for DRIVEN. You will get nowhere unless you drive yourself. You must sing your own song, be yourself and be the best you can be. Drive your own life, don’t expect others to drive it for you, then you will enjoy the journey and get to your destination.

L is for LEADERSHIP. Leaders are humble, they are good listeners, they follow as well as lead, they voice their views honestly and authentically. Leaders take initiative, solve problems, put others before themselves.  Leaders pursue greatness, which is having a sense of deeper, vaster meaning than themselves alone.

Nelson Mandela said: “A true leader must work hard to ease tensions. Especially when dealing with sensitive and complicated issues.”


Nelson Mandela said: “There are few misfortunes in this world that you cannot turn into a personal triumph if you have the iron will and necessary skill.”

If you don’t have commitment to yourself, your goals, other people, a greater good, you might as well go and drink your life away in the nearby shebeen.

As a final thought: COMMITMENT is the key factor for LEADERS DRIVEN by HOPE.

Viva each one of you.

Viva HDLC!”


Anne delivers a her keynote address under the Digital Tree of Knowledge.